Tourism Resilience: More Than Just “Bouncing Back” from Adversity

This month we are publishing Tourism and Resilience by C. Michael Hall, Girish Prayag and Alberto Amore. In this post the authors explain the concept of resilience in tourism and comment on their case study of the Great Barrier Reef.

The environment seems to be becoming increasingly challenging for tourism businesses, destinations, and the people who work and live in them. In 2017 alone we have seen a range of weather and climate change related events, including severe hurricanes in the United States and the Caribbean, as well as in Ireland, while at the same time there have been major forest fires in the western United States and in Portugal. We also have political concerns in the form of terrorism, Brexit, the Trump administration, North Korea, and multi-national tax avoidance, while at the same time tourism is having to respond to economic and technological shifts such as automation, big data, and disruptive innovation.

Resilience is the magnitude of disturbance that can be tolerated before a system moves to a different state, controlled by a different set of processes. Given the challenges of crises and disasters, as well as ongoing “normal” change, for tourism, it is no surprise that the concept of resilience is seen as a response to the call for new definitions, concepts and understandings to frame the many ecological, socio-economic and political challenges of tourism. Resilience thinking is therefore a response to the urgent need for broader and different views of the tourism system. This clearly includes destination management at large, as the vulnerability of places and communities can no longer be ignored, but also considers how businesses and individuals are connected both within and beyond destinations.

The notion of a tourism system is widely used in tourism education and research but often there is not enough consideration of what this really means in looking at the sector as a whole, as well as how it responds to change. The aim of our book therefore is to provide scholars and practitioners with a multi-layered view of resilience from individual, organizational and destination perspectives. We take a multi-disciplinary approach to develop the first monograph on tourism and resilience. As well as a strong analytical and theoretical focus, and a comprehensive discussion of the literature, the book builds on the authors first-hand tourism research from post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand, and other locations, and includes a range of different cases from around the world to illustrate key ideas and concepts.

A key message of the book is that tourism resilience is more than just “bouncing-back” from adversity. Every destination and tourism business goes through incremental and sudden change, and we identify inherent vulnerabilities in the tourism system and how they can be managed. To a certain extent, resilience in tourism reinforces principles and notions inherent to sustainable tourism. Resilience thinking is valuable because of its focus on connectedness and the need to move away from the continual separation of ecological, social and economic impacts. However, while some may see resilience as the “new sustainability” it is important to note that, although related, resilience thinking has its own specific contributions regarding the capacity to absorb change, learning and self-organisation, and adaptation. As part of developing a better understanding of the tourism system, considerations of resilience in tourism therefore need to think of what is happening at scales above and below the main level of focus in order both to explain change and, in some cases, to intervene to create desired change.

The case of the Great Barrier Reef is an emblematic example. The bleaching of the reef as a result of climate change has put a renowned tourist and natural heritage site in grave danger. However, the capacity of the reef to adapt is also affected by pollution and run-off from onshore practices. To understand the problems the reef faces one therefore needs to be able to understand the global dimension of climate change as well as realise that a marine system is deeply affected by what happens on land. System management must therefore be not only multi-scaled but also recognise the very real implications of connectivity to what some may have previously regarded as being “outside” of reef management. The future of many tourism stakeholders as well as the reef ecosystem is at stake and there is a need for systemic long-term destination planning to enhance the resilience of resource and the destination. As we note in the book, sustainable development can only be achieved in sufficiently resilient socio-ecosystems. Resilience allows a system to have a future, but this requires a much better appreciation of the nature of the tourism system and the importance of system thinking than what has usually been the case. In other words, government and other authorities need to see the pressures on the Great Barrier Reef in the context of “joined up” problems rather than seeing land management, reef management, and climate change policy as being separate.

This notion of connecting the pieces is central to the book. Change – moving from one state to another – is actually the norm in tourism as elsewhere. But what is important, from an industry and ethical perspective, is what sort of change and what sort of state we want to move to and how we are going to get there. Hopefully, this book will help provide some sort of frame by which we can inform and improve our thinking about change and direction in tourism as well as how we are going to get there.

Alberto Amore, Girish Prayag and C. Michael Hall

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Crisis and Disaster Management for Tourism by Brent W. Ritchie.

The Debate on Brexit and the Potential Impact on Academic Publishing

Alongside the meetings and stalls at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which Tommi and I attended last week, there were also talks and discussions on topics of general interest to publishers. One that caught our eye on the Publishing Perspectives stage was entitled “Debate on Brexit and the Potential Impact on Academic Publishing” and I went along to hear the discussion. The panel comprised Richard Fisher, an academic policy correspondent, Richard Mollet from the RELX group and Andy Robinson from the publisher Wiley.

The general feeling among academic publishers is that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union is troubling and of great concern so the panel began with the discussants being asked if it is all doom and gloom as we suspect, or if there are in fact some silver linings to the situation. The panellists managed to come up with 4 positives, such as the short term currency gains which publishers with high exports are enjoying, potential beneficial changes in VAT laws, a renewed focus on emerging markets and UK research possibly being able to reposition and rebuild itself – particularly in some areas of science research, such as clinical trials, where the UK’s formerly strong output has fallen apart. We were also reminded that there were pockets of support for Brexit among some UK academics and that we need to respond to and work for the 52% who voted for the UK to leave the EU.

The panel on the Publishing Perspectives stage
The panel on the Publishing Perspectives stage

The above positives aside, the discussants identified several major concerns of Brexit for the publishing industry which were grouped into 3 main areas: people, funding and regulations.

The UK publishing workforce has a higher than national average percentage of workers from abroad and we do not know what the implications of Brexit will be for employment. The same goes for researchers at UK institutions and EU students, who bring growth for our economy as well as numerous other societal benefits. The panel mentioned anecdotal evidence of academics now refusing positions at UK universities and UK academics being taken off grant applications or side-lined within existing projects. Furthermore, the UK will now be relegated to the position of an observer rather than a participant on discussions around matters such as Open Access in academia.

Regarding the concern of funding, the panel felt that the sector needs to make a clear case to the government for research funding to be maintained and provided, especially as the terms of Brexit are negotiated and we are in a state of flux. Universities shouldn’t resort to pleading and requesting a special case, but rather they need to stress to the government the importance of the industry to our society and economy.

Finally, on the topic of regulation, the conversation moved to areas such as copyright law, data protection and medical trials, all of which are currently governed to some extent by EU law but which need not be in the future. We were reminded that the UK has traditionally had a good research reputation but, where Britain now goes the world won’t follow. Our decreased voice on topics of international concern is troubling.

The session was wrapped up with an optimistic view that British publishing is international in scope and outlook and that that is unlikely to change, especially in the humanities where relations are as much transatlantic and global as they are European. Brexit will no doubt have an impact on the industry but perhaps not as much as other concerns of 21st century publishing, such as mass piracy and green open access, but those are topics for discussion another time!

Laura

Brexit and its Implications for Channel View Publications & Multilingual Matters

Since the UK referendum result to leave the European Union, I have often been asked what effect this will have on our business. These questions have come from authors, colleagues, interested friends and my mother. The honest answer to all has been “I really do not know”.

To a very large extent, this is the biggest issue with Brexit for any business. “Brexit means Brexit” is the often-quoted line from government, but the reality is that we are none the wiser now than we were during the campaign.

In the short term, Brexit has provided a very timely and much-needed boost to our income. The fall in the value of sterling has meant that our books now appear cheaper in many currencies, and we have seen a rise in orders from many countries, including Japan and China. Where we price in other currencies like the US Dollar, our sales have been worth more to us. In a time of tight budgets in higher education institutions around the world, this has been welcome.

Tommi celebrating his Finnish nationality
A proud European citizen

On the other hand, any fall in the price of sterling will most likely lead to inflationary pressures in the UK economy at some stage, and whilst we might currently enjoy a small boost in our income, we may ultimately be hit with higher office rents, higher salary bills, higher paper and printing costs, and higher cost of supply. There is no doubt that any reintroduction of customs borders between the UK and the rest of Europe will have something of an administrative cost to us.

We have heard many anecdotal tales about UK researchers and UK institutions having joint projects with European colleagues put on hold until any funding situation has been confirmed. This is of course a concern to us as many of our books arise from such European cross-border projects. Equally if it is harder for overseas students to come to the UK to study, how will this impact our institutions?

On a personal level, I am a Finnish-English dual national. Since Finland joined the EU in the 1990s, I have happily been able to travel between the UK and Finland, my two home countries, without any concern. My friends and family from both countries have had the same rights in either one, and I have thought of myself as much European as Finnish or British. I spend significant amounts of time in both countries, and I will be very interested to see whether any exit from the European Union would complicate this for me.

Ultimately, we just do not know. Until the actual process and terms of Brexit are negotiated, we can only guess as to what the outcomes might be, and for a small business that needs to make staffing and investment decisions, this uncertainty can be very daunting. The current government is not doing anything to help make this situation clearer. With such friends as Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, calling British businesses fat, lazy and more interested in playing golf than exporting, I am not sure we need any enemies. All I can say to Dr Fox is that we have certainly exported more books to the world than he has over-claimed money in parliamentary expenses.

Putting aside all this uncertainty, we are in the fortunate position of not having any external debt or shareholders pressuring us to make decisions, and our market has always been a global market, so we are well-placed to continue to trade globally, and I am certain that we will be able to overcome any obstacles and take advantage of any benefits of Brexit once the process has been decided.

Tommi